While the planned card has taken a bit of a hit due to injuries and legal matters, we’re still going to get two world title fights and several other intriguing bouts spread from the flyweight division up to heavyweight.
In the main event, Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson will square off for the vacant light heavyweight title. Johnson was scheduled to challenge Jon Jones for the belt, but “Bones” was stripped and suspended following his alleged hit-and-run in New Mexico.
The co-main boasts a much-delayed middleweight championship match between Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort. The two were expected to face off last year, but injuries and the move to ban TRT has forced postponements.
Other main card fights include Donald Cerrone vs. John Makdessi – after an injury knocked Khabib Nurmagomedov out – in the lightweight division, Andrei Arlovski vs. Travis Browne at heavyweight and flyweights Joseph Benavidez and John Moraga going one-on-one.
The prelims will also include a key 125-pound contest, as John Dodson battles Zach Makovsky. The remaining FOX Sports 1 fights feature Dong Hyun Kim vs. Josh Burkman, Rafael Natal vs. Uriah Hall and Mike Pyle vs. Colby Covington.
Let’s get to the action:
Josh Sampo vs. Justin Scoggins
Flyweights will kick-start the evening, as Josh Sampo (11-4) goes up against Justin Scoggins (9-2). Sampo has six submission wins to his credit, while Scoggins has five first round finishes and seven stoppages overall.
Round 1: Scoggins starting strong with the kicks, even trying a spinning attack right off the bat. He’s using the rear-kick to push Sampo away. Another spinning attack followed up by a front-leg hook-kick from Scoggins, who is really moving forward. Sampo with a nice flurry, scoring for the first time. Another front-kick connects for Scoggins, who is really utilizing his karate background. Sampo with a hard takedown attempt, but he’s denied easily. Good left by Sampo is answered with a pair of stiff kicks to the body. Knee that appears to catch some of the chin and body by Scoggins to end the round.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Scoggins
Round 2: Little bit more of a calm pace set forth by both men to start, but it’s Scoggins who is landing with the kicks. Sampo tries to put together a combo of strikes and is denied. They clinch, but Sampo is unable to secure a takedown. Left from Sampo lands and he tries to follow up with the clinch only to be denied. More body work for Scoggins, who seems to have no idea what is coming next or from where. Sampo finally catches a kick, moves to the back for a takedown and Scoggins pulls guard. They reverse, scramble and wind up back on the feet. Sampo gives him a taste of his own medicine, connecting with a pair of kicks to the body. Much less energy being exerted by Scoggins, as he gets kicked off his feet.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Sampo
Round 3: Just like the second half of round two, Sampo is applying more of the pressure. Scoggins has slowed dramatically and is unable to string together combos like he was early on. Out of nowhere, though, he connects with the front-kick again. Nice kicking display for Scoggins. He gets a little reckless and Sampo scores with a takedown, moving to the top position as we head under two minutes. Sampo does a little work on the ground, but Scoggins lands a takedown to end it. Interesting round, and fight, to score.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Scoggins
Justin Scoggins def. Josh Sampo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Leo Kuntz vs. Islam Makhachev
We’ll conclude the early prelims in the lightweight division, as Leo Kuntz (17-1-1) meets Islam Makhachev (11-0). Kuntz is 14-0-1 in his last 15, while Makhachev trains at AKA and was brought up in the sport by Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father. Both are making their official Octagon debuts.
Round 1: Right off the bat, Makhachev throws a big overhand left, and the 23-year-old is ready to engage. Left-right lands by Makhachev and he clinches against the fence, unloading on the body. Perfect trip-takedown by Makhachev, who moves to the back and is all over Kuntz. He’s got one hook in and this one might be over quickly. Nice defense by Kuntz, who is looking to sneak out the back. He does and comes out swinging with heavy shots. Exchange of uppercuts and we have two minutes left in the round. A series of uppercuts while controlling the clinch for Makhachev, who drags him to the canvas with seconds left.
FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Makhachev
Round 2: Makhachev is just a step or two quicker and he’s concerned with getting taken down. All of that’s leading to nasty shots connecting. Makhachev again lands and Kuntz is hurt, as he dropped to his knees, giving up his back. Makhachev has the hooks in and is working for the choke with plenty of time left. Kuntz tried to spin out and was denied. Full body-triangle secured and many shots getting through now. They roll and Makhachev gets the arm under and this one is all over.
Islam Makhachev def. Leo Kuntz via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:38 of Round 2